Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
FULTON, NY – When it comes to serving those in need, the human service agencies in Oswego County are finding it increasingly more difficult to do so. The loss of jobs, the increasing number of individuals unemployed, and budget cuts at the national, state and local levels are creating a perfect storm of poverty in Oswego County.
Across the board, agency programs, food pantries, and soup kitchens are feeling the strain of trying to meet the ever-growing need that exists in Oswego County.
“Agencies that offer assistance with heating costs, food subsidy, and homelessness have experienced tremendous cutbacks and all indications are that the situation may very well be worse in 2012,” said Executive Director of the United Way of Oswego County, Melanie Trexler.
According to Trexler, the budget cuts and increase demand for services has had a devastating effect.
- Catholic Charities of Oswego County, a very significant cut in funding while its food pantry is experiencing a 30% increase in the demand for food subsidy.
- Department of Social Services, a reduction in cash assistance and food stamps and significant changes to its medical assistance program.
- The HEAP program that offers assistance with heating costs received a 50% reduction in funding.
- Human Concerns has experienced a 7% increase in households served and a 15% increase in the number of elderly it serves.
- Oswego County Opportunities has experienced drastic budget cuts to several of its programs that provide vital services to at risk youth in Oswego County.
- Salvation Army has received reduced funding from FEMA, fewer donations from its food drives, and a loss of food donations and red kettle locations due to business closures.
In response to these issues, representatives of these agencies have come together to form a Safety Net committee. Working collaboratively, the members are in the process of developing a strategy that will allow them to deal with these changes as best they can and serve as many families and individuals as possible. “It’s important that we take a proactive approach so that we may best serve our community now and in the future. In the coming months we will be reaching out to concerned businesses and organizations, as well as families and individuals who are able to assist us in our fight against hunger and poverty in Oswego County,” said Trexler.
One of the goals of the Safety Net committee is to engage the community and encourage them to take stock in these human services programs and make them their own by helping to provide agencies with the resources they need to meet the increasing demand for their services. “We are fortunate to live in a county were our communities have demonstrated their willingness to help their neighbor. Now, more than ever, we rely on that spirit of compassion and caring to continue to serve those in need and provide them with the services they so desperately in need of,” added Trexler.
According to Trexler, each agency has unique needs to be addressed. Among those are:
- Oswego Salvation Army – New unwrapped toys for Christmas and cash donations for food.
- DSS – Unwrapped toys or cash donations for toys for its Christmas Children’s Fund which has been making Christmas a magical time for children for more than 25 years. For toy donations, contact Marcia Birdsell at 315-963-5396 or Carol Ledd at 315-963-5246.
- OCO Nutrition Services – Food donations or cash donations for meals for disabled homebound persons. Donations can be dropped off at OCO’s Mexico Community Center, 5871 Scenic Ave. in Mexico.
For more information on the efforts of the Safety Net Committee, or to make a donation to one of our area’s human services organizations, contact Trexler at 315-593-1900.